A new 5-litre V8-powered premier openwheeler formula is set to kick off in Australia next year.
The new category, S5000, will use a brand new 2019-specification carbon fibre chassis powered by a control 415kW five-litre Ford V8 engine and driving through an Australian designed and manufactured transmission.
The announcement of S5000 brings to an end a fraught three-year gestation period that began with Chris Lambden’s ‘Formula Thunder’ FT5000 project, which aimed to incorporate the essence of 1970s Formula 5000 cars in a contemporary openwheeler package.
But Lambden’s plans were derailed when Supercars Australia subsequently announced its intention to run a similar 5-litre powered openwheeler category. Eventually a truce was achieved, with the two groups combining to develop a single formula under the Super5000 banner.
It had been expected that the original FT5000 Swift-made chassis (essentially a 2012 Formula Nippon design) would get the nod as the chosen control chassis. Instead, the 2019 S5000 is based on an all-new Onroak-Ligier carbon-fibre monocoque.
The Onroak-Ligier chassis also uses the controversial halo protective device now used in Formula 1, making it the first Australian racing class to feature the FIA-mandated safety feature.
Just as the car has changed from the original concept, so too has the positioning of the formula. While FT5000 had been conceived as a quasi retro category that provided a modern alternative to historic Formula 5000 racing, S5000 is positioned as a contemporary category, the premier open wheel class in the Australasian region. It is aimed at introducing young and aspiring drivers to first-class open wheel racing, as well as experienced professionals.
The category has approval from CAMS, which has granted category management rights to the newly-formed promotors Australian Racing Group. Next year's inaugural series will be known as the CAMS Australian S5000 Championship. Chris Lambden has been appointed category manager.
"It’s been an interesting pathway over the past three-and-a-half years to get to this point,” Lambden said, “but what we’re now going to be able to offer Australian motorsport is actually better than I had ever thought we could achieve.
“The 2018 FIA-spec Onroak-Ligier tub, amalgamated with the V8 engine and Holinger rear end makes up a totally contemporary car that is going to blow people away. It will retain the modest downforce and mechanical grip elements that we have aimed for, so it’s going to be fast and safe and, at last, we have a serious, spectacular, high-level open wheeler category – perhaps Australia’s version of IndyCar…”
“There have been a lot of people expressing interest in getting involved, and with CAMS now ticking off the car and the championship series, it is well and truly on”
Control 17-inch tyres and a modest aerodynamic wing package will give S5000 a visual presence and ensure the cars aren’t too downforce-reliant.
Nonetheless, more than 400kW in a modern, winged openwheeler package should result in a very fast machine – S5000 cars should easily be the fastest domestic category racing cars in Australia next year. It’s anticipated that most, if not all, outright lap records on Australian circuits will be broken by S5000 cars in 2019.